Closing in on the secrets of plant photosynthesis |


The new technique essentially has brought the picture into sharper focus. What the technicians see is a system in which “antenna” proteins capture light and feed them into a kind of molecular reactor.

One difficulty with fully understanding the process is that, unlike the parts of a solar panel, which are rigid and designed to last, the crucial proteins in the photosystem of a plant are dynamic, and don’t last very long before they fall apart. The plant then regenerates these structures.

“Even though nature has had millions of years to develop and optimize photosynthesis, there are still outstanding and unknown questions about how photosynthesis operates. It’s truly a scientific challenge.”

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